Omens on the Oval

Mirror Lake/Pomerene Hall:

It’s rumored that Frederick Clark still roams the area of Mirror Lake and Pomerene Hall. The story goes that Clark, an Ohio State professor at the time, wasn’t the wisest of investors leading to woes of bad investments, which put him in the position to have to ask the university for financial support; they essentially laughed in his face. According to his obituary posted by the Irwin Collier and an article from The Lantern posted in 1903, it seems the guilt of screwing over his fellow investors coupled with his own personal financial problems were the root cause of him taking his own life on the hill where Pomerene Hall sits. 

At the time of his death, former building coordinator of Pomerene Hall, Anna Fout, who was also his wife, is also rumored to roam the halls to wreak havoc on anyone who passes through as punishment for what the university apparently drove her husband to.


Mack Hall:

A girl returned late at night from studying in the Medical School library, and when she reached for the pull-chain for her light, a human arm fell down on to her. This event caused her so much trauma that she went insane. Later, it was found that this was a prank pulled on her- some of her friends had taken an arm from one of the cadavers in the medical school. Unfortunately, she never recovered, and her sane spirit which left her then continues to haunt Mack hall to this day.


Thompson Library:

Since Olive Branch Jones’ passing in 1933, she has been spotted haunting the stacks in the basement of the library. During her 34-year tenure at Ohio State, Jones grew the 13,000 books at the library into a collection of 300,000 books, many of which are now part of the university’s special collection which is located in the basement stacks.

While alone in the basement, many workers have claimed to hear footsteps and the persistent rustling of a dress. Jones is usually spotted as a shadowy figure in a black or white dress. The ghost is harmless, but some say Jones gets angry when books in the library experience water damage.


University Hall:

Bats in Old University Hall: Ohio State theatre group ‘The Scarlet Mask’ would perform in the old University Hall. Eventually they had to move their performance venue because their productions kept getting interrupted by a flock of bats which would fly around the ceiling chirping. Guests would have to duck their heads to avoid getting hit by these creatures.


Bricker Hall:

Herbert Atkinson played basketball for the Bucks while attending school here and after served as a member of the Board of Trustees for 13 years. His dying wish has been rumored to be having his body cremated and place the urn of ashes at Bricker Hall. And if the rumors hold true, his ashes are scattered between the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building. And if you want even more, there have been rumbles that Atkinson has been seen sipping fruit punch at the front desk or dropping in on a Board of Trustees meeting.


Derby Hall:

Back in the 1920s, Derby Hall was the home of the Chemistry Department, as well as the University Pharmacy. There were a number of students who died of similar symptoms. Police and the university investigated and found that all of the students had been prescribed quinine cold capsules which were tainted with strychnine. They were never able to get to the bottom of this, but many suspect a murderous pharmacist with less than wholesome ambitions.


Derby Hall Drain:

This drain is home to one of our more famous ghosts on campus, Jeffry Dahmer.

A renowned serial killer and cannibal, Jeffry Dahmer attended OSU for a semester in 1978. During his time, he is known to have lived in Morrill Tower.

It is said that he attempted his first murder in this drain, but failed to kill the person. After he was badly beaten in prison and lay dying on the prison floor, he said he would haunt the only place he failed to kill.


Hopkins Hall:

Hopkins Hall is the home of Art and Design. In the spring of 1981, a brilliant student worked through the night to finish her senior final project. On her ride back to the first floor, the elevator shuttered to a stop, trapping the artist with her supplies in a steel box.

She screamed, she banged her fists against the walls, she wailed, she tried prying the doors open, all to no avail. At some point, her fright must have taken over and mentally unbalanced her. When she was found on Monday morning, she had covered the elevator walls with handprints and was covered head to toe in the paint that was trapped with her in the elevator. She was found physically fine, but the experience emotionally traumatized her and she wouldn’t speak of it. After spending a few months off campus, she returned, but within the week was hit by a COTA bus and died.

Today, on a pillar outside main entrance to Hopkins, is an eerie black hand print, which cannot be scrubbed off. Legend remains that she lost her spirit in the elevator that night. Her ghost made sure everyone would remember her by leaving a single in place everyone could see. In a place that would forever remind the world what happened.


Hayes Hall:

In 1917, Hayes Hall became the bunkroom for the newly-established ROTC program. One night, a group of cadets tied some bed sheets together and sneaked out for a night on the town. When they got back, much to their dismay, their sheet rope was gone. They tried the front door – locked. They then tried the door accessible under the staircase facing the Oval, where a janitor was passing by. The janitor kindly let them in, said he’d keep their late return a secret, and the cadets went to their bunks.

As the cadets were leaving the next morning, they saw a portrait of the very same man hanging above the front desk! They asked the receptionist, “Who’s that man?! In the portrait! We saw him last night!” The receptionist replied, “I don’t think so. That’s President Hayes. He died in 1893.”

Demon baby- look at the doorway. There is a crying baby carved into the opening and is the only difference in symmetry. This was not in the plans, and none of the masons were aware of it being carved- it just showed up.


Baker West:

There was once a housekeeper who worked on the first floor of Baker Hall West. She was a quiet and sweet older lady who was a bit slow but enjoyed her position. From time to time, she would be teased by residents living in her floor section but for the most part she was well respected.

One year, she had a hallway of entirely male students who were particularly rowdy. The group would constantly prank her and leave the facilities in terrible condition. One day she decided to out her foot down and told the boys that if they didn’t quit with the pranks and disrespect, then she would stop cleaning their spaces.

The boys didn’t respond well, and instead decided to play another prank. On a Friday afternoon, as the housekeeper was getting ready to leave for the weekend, the boys surprised her in a basement hallway. They tied her up and left her in a former custodial closet for the weekend. Unfortunately, that room has several leaks and floods. They left her on the floor covering the drain and the room flooded over the weekend, drowning her. She was discovered the following morning.

The boys were held responsible and the university drilled a sizable hole in the floor of the room to make sure it wouldn’t flood again and things seemed to move on as if nothing happened. Shortly thereafter there were sightings of a shadowy figure all throughout the Bakers. If that’s not creepy enough, only men have reported seeing it. The story goes that the shadowy figure is the spirit of the housekeeper and she will haunt men living in either Baker East or West.


Tunnels on 15th Ave:

Were used as a part of the underground railroad. There is a little girl who appears in a few of the old houses on 15th avenue, which used to be connected by these tunnels. The most recent sightings have been at the Kappa Sigma house, which was originally opened by William Neil, a man who owned the stagecoach line which went from Columbus to Granville. This was one of the main underground railroad stations in the area. For more information, refer to the 5 signs which Staters installed a few years ago throughout the campus area!


Mendenhall Lab:

Named after OSU’s first Physics Professor, Thomas Mendenhall. Taught physics for Columbus Public Schools and then for the university. One of the more peculiar experiments which he attempted was to reanimate the body of John Barclay, who had been hung for murder earlier the same day. This experiment occurred on Oct 4, 1872 and involved electric shocks ah-la-Frankenstein.


Orton Hall:

Orton Hall is the second-oldest building on campus, named after Edward Orton Sr. who was Ohio State’s first president as well as the university’s first geology professor.

Orton leaves behind many legacies, including the Orton Geological Museum. The museum houses 54,000 specimens which includes the skeleton of a giant three-toed sloth and an entire dinosaur skeleton One artifact is considerably more lively than others. Legend has it a prehistoric man roams the museum halls. Confused by his modern surroundings, he is heard throughout the museum grunting, slamming doors and banging on walls. A student worker reported a man’s feet in the upstairs room of the museum. When she arrived at the top of the stairs to see if he needed help, there was no one there.

During his time at Ohio State, Orton would often be found in the evenings reading in the bell tower by lamp light. Today some say that if you look into the tower on top of Orton Hall, you’ll see a flickering light.

1920s: Engineering Professor Allen McManigold would play the chimes on Noon and 5pm and never missed playing. But in 1950s, after Spring Break, students noticed that the chimes didn’t happen. It was found that in the he had taken his own life in his office that morning, but people say that his ghost is still present each day at Noon and 5pm in the tower.